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Another weekend in Philadelphia means another weekend of East Coast competitors itching to get back on stage.
Fight to Win will make its second consecutive appearance in PA, for Fight to Win 155. In the main event, the 10th Planet prodigy, Grace Gundrum, will make her Fight to Win debut — and also her black belt debut — against Pati Fontes.
In the co-main event, Vinicius “Trator” Ferreira will represent the Marcelo Garcia academy against Unity’s Devhonte “Bones” Johnson. And Jake Watson will try to redeem his recent loss against Matheus Luna in a gi superfight.
Main Event: Grace Gundrum vs Pati Fontes
Grace Gundrum has been on everyone’s radar for years. She was only 12 years old when she made her superfight debut at EBI, and she hasn’t stopped impressing over the last six years. Last year, as a purple belt, she represented 10th Planet in a Quintet team matchup against Rikako Yuasa, a four-time world champ, and fought her to a draw.
But while Yuasa is a multi-time gi champ, Gundrum’s next challenge, Pati Fontes, is a no-gi champion. She’s won No-Gi Worlds three times since 2015, and will be Gundrum’s toughest challenge to date. Fontes is currently the no. 4-ranked female at 56 kg, ahead of Gundrum who is ranked no. 7.
This match will be a major proving ground for the young black belt. She has an incredibly flexible guard and a savvy attack game; and at Fight to Win 155, she’ll have an opportunity to test herself against world-class talent.
Watch: Jon Blank Predicts Grace Gundrum Vs Pati Fontes
Co-Main: Vinicius “Trator” Ferreira vs Devhonte “Bones” Johnson
These cross-city rivals have only faced once since earning their black belts. That was last year in an absolute match No-Gi Pans which Bones won by decision. Trator has had some stand-out performances since that match. He took silver at ADCC last year and won a No-Gi World title a few months later.
But he’s had a slow start to the year, competing twice on Fight to Win and losing both matches. A win over Bones would be a huge rebounding opportunity or him.
Johnson has had career highs and lows this year. At Subversiv 3 in August, he defeated one of the top-ranked super heavyweights, Fellipe Andrew. At Pans this month, he climbed the open weight bracket, losing in the quarterfinals. But he’s finally found a place in the top-10 rankings in both gi and no-gi super heavyweight classes, and a win over Trator could cement his position there.
Watch: Devhonte Johnson vs Fellipe Andrew at Subversiv 3
Feature Match: Jake Watson vs Matheus Luna
Jake Watson will have a score to settle with Matheus Luna after their run-in at Pans earlier this month. That was a combative match in which neither man was willing to concede the slightest bit of momentum. The scrappy match ended without a point scored, but Luna came away with the victory by advantage.
The Fight to Win stage has a way of bringing a different energy out of matchups such as these. Both competitors have high submission rates. It’s likely that these two will keep the same grit and intensity, but take more risks to get the finish. Watson holds the record for the fastest submission in Fight to Win history, a seven-second ankle lock victory. But Luna is dangerous, too. He has submitted 50 percent of his opponents since earning his black belt last year.